A bright brother pays rich tributes to Wright Brothers
By Shashank H R - BANGALORE
19th December 2012 10:41 AM
The world today is an epitome of man’s endeavour and excellence in science and technology. The relentless efforts of a few determined men with a penchant for scientific findings have transformed our lifestyle beyond imagination. A testament to this is the aerospace industry which has seen a stupendous change in just over a century.
Air travel would have remained a dream without the notable pioneers of powered flight, Orville and Wilbur Wright. Be it the world’s largest aircraft, the Antonov 225 or a fast, nimble fighter jet such as the F-22 Raptor, the paradigm for them is still the same as that of the Wright Brothers’ aircraft, Kitty Hawk. Even today, 109 years after their first flight, the reverence for them continues to be undiminished. The success story of Wright Brothers has been one of the factors which bolstered my passion for aircraft, finally, leading me to a flight in one of the most-advanced light combat aircraft in the world, the Gripen.
During Aero-India 2011 show, I had won the Gripen Top Guns, a contest that was conducted by the Swedish defence and security company, SAAB, and awarded with an opportunity to fly the Gripen as co-pilot. Flying the PC-based flight simulators had given me an idea about controlling an actual aircraft. Before the flight, I was extensively briefed about the flight controls and emergency procedures by the pilot who would fly me, Major Robin Nordlander.
After being kitted out in a sturdy G-suit, we headed towards the parked JAS-39 D, a two-seater variant of the Gripen. As we taxied, I was overwhelmed and felt lucky looking at the spectators as I was one of them in all the previous air shows.
Catapulting a stone off a slingshot is how taking-off in one of these jets feels like; the longitudinal ‘G’ force was high enough to cause momentary giddiness. Once airborne, it was total euphoria; I was given the controls, I performed some turns and climbed to about 20,000 feet.
Bangalore looked immaculate from up there - every lake, hill, tree and building appeared beautiful. The smooth touchdown was preceded by flying in formation with SAAB-2000 and SAAB-340 over the airfield. I felt invincible and very thankful to the company for providing me a platform to demonstrate my skills. My parents were simply flabbergasted to see me co-pilot the Gripen.
This would not have been possible for me elsewhere: the air shows, aerospace museum and the low-flying aircraft over the city have influenced me deeply. It is here in Bangalore, the aerospace capital of India, where India’s dream aircraft take shape. And, I salute the Wright Brothers for gifting me something special.
(The writer is a mechanical engineer and is currently preparing to pursue post-graduation. An avid aviation enthusiast, he resides at Malleshwaram.)
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